Duck hunters say resurgence driven by people wanting to know the origin of their food


A hunting club in South Australia’s Riverland says it is experiencing a resurgence in membership that believes has been spurred by consumers caring more about the origin of their food.

Wild waterbirds like ducks have been hunted as a source of food for centuries.

Now people like Julie Gillespie are reaching back to their roots, to take fresh meat home to feed their families.

She said most hunters at the Barmera Moorook Field and Game Club — including herself — had joined so they can harvest their own fresh food.

“You know exactly what’s happened with that meat from harvesting through to cooking your involved with the whole process,” Ms Gillespie said.

“There’s nothing like putting that food on the table, something that’s fresh, tasty and yeah, we know where it’s come from.”

Focus on fresh

Meals in the Gillespie household are always focused around the catch of the day, whether that be fish, duck or rabbit.

“We’ll go fishing and have fresh fish for tea that night, you can’t beat it.”

“We don’t ever buy meat anymore, unless we feel like a bit of pork.”

“We don’t just go out and kill things for the sake of killing something.

“We go out there to provide food for the table and we only take what we need.”

Hunter watches for signs of ducks from the reeds on the Loveday wetlands

Members flock to club

Members of the club in South Australia’s Riverland are experiencing a resurgence, which they believe has been spurred by consumers caring more about the origin of their food.

Club treasurer Rob West said people were flocking to the field and game club because they wanted fresh and wild meat.

“We’re seeing not only are there extra women joining the club but we’re also seeing a large change in attitude from the average male hunter,” he said.

“We’re seeing people not so concerned about how many birds they hunt, but more what they’re going to do with the birds.”

Members of the club said they were seeing a change in the duck hunting culture too.

“There’s more of a competition with duck recipes than with how many birds each person’s caught,” Mr West said.

“We’ll all sit around the camp fire the night before shooting and compare recipes, lots of people make duck pie, stews and even duck curry.”

“I think it all comes down to a craft-food movement.”

ducks flying over wetland

The Barmera Moorook Field and Game Club has managed one of the two sections of the Loveday wetland complex since 1983.

During the duck season this year the field and game club chose to close its wetlands to hunters, for at least one weekend a month, a control measure introduced to allow the habitat to recover.

Rob West said there was more to being a member of the club than most people understood.

“It is about the connection to the country. It’s three months a year of hunting and nine months of conservation”, Mr West said.

He says members of the club help to manage and conserve the wetland, to ensure it remains healthy.

“We run active weed management, rubbish control and we participate in the wetting and drying regimes of that wetland — that are probably the most important things for the long-term health of that wetland.”

He said hoped if people understood more about the sport and its culture, it would help to change the stigma around the sport.

Wetland closed for shooting